Dare Not Speak
by Casey Valhalla
Tell me why, sad and sighing, thou dost rove
These pleasant realms? I pray thee speak me sooth
What is thy name?' He said, 'My name is Love.'
Then straight the first did turn himself to me
And cried, 'He lieth, for his name is Shame,
But I am Love, and I was wont to be
Alone in this fair garden, till he came
Unasked by night; I am true Love, I fill
The hearts of boy and girl with mutual flame.'
Then sighing said the other, 'Have thy will,
I am the Love that dare not speak its name.'
Lord Alfred Douglas, concerning Oscar Wilde
"You’re coming, right?"
Andrew stared at me, bug-eyed behind his glasses. He shook his head slightly, adjusted the beanie on his head, blinked, and looked at me again. "You’re coming, right?"
I sighed. "No."
He stepped carefully over to where I was sitting at my desk, edging along as though he expected me to jump up and attack him. Gingerly, he reached one hand out and touched my forehead. "You don’t *feel* sick…"
"Duo…" Andrew wiggled his nose to adjust his glasses and peered at me, a look of almost-genuine concern on his round features. "Are you high?"
I snorted and looked away. "Go to the party, Andrew. I’m staying in."
"I mean on something *other* than—"
"Please." My voice was quieter than usual.
"Okay, man." He grabbed his jacket off the lower bunk and slung it over his shoulder. He turned back as he opened the door. "So, is she hot?"
Andrew grinned. "You’ve been acting weird all week, man." He shifted around the door until only his head remained in the room. "You are *so* in loooooooo—"
I grabbed a drumstick off the desk and hurled it at him. He dodged and slammed the door closed just in time. The drumstick clattered against the door and rolled along the linoleum tile floor. I could hear his laughter echoing in the outside corridor.
I shoved my roommate out of my mind and looked back at the computer monitor. Psych essay. Bleah. I groaned and shut it off. I’d barely done any homework all week.
Why? That’s the question I’m afraid to answer.
His name is Heero Yuy.
I kissed him.
No, I *kissed* him.
Don’t you realize the implications of this? He’s a *guy*. *I’m* a guy. And I *kissed* him.
There has got to be a rational explanation for this.
You know that little voice in the back of your head, the one that always pokes you in the right direction, or tells you "this is a bad idea" when you’re about to do something stupid? I have one of those. And it’s chatty as hell. And for the last seven days it’s been doing the Macarena in my brain, chanting, "You kissed a bo-oy! You kissed a bo-oy!"
Helpful, don’t you think?
He was in drag. It’s understandable, right? He looked damn good in it, too. Sexy, especially in the dim light in the living room at that party. The lights from the kitchen were glinting off whatever stuff he’d used to slick down his hair. I’ve *never* seen him show that much leg, either, not even over spring break last year when everyone was running around Quatre’s folks’ place in their boxers at ten in the morning. I was only there one day, but I remember that; he sleeps in flannel pajama pants.
I wonder if he ever remembers stuff like that about me.
I slid out of the desk chair and started pacing again. Soon there’s gonna be a track in the linoleum floor of my dorm room, from the window to the door. Back and forth. It’s too quiet. I opened the window. It’s dark outside, but only a little chilly. I punched a random button on my stereo, hoping there was a decent CD in there. And I paced.
The music started softly in the background, solo piano overlaid by a male tenor. "Another night slips away, in other words I should say … there are no words he should say,there are no words…"
I kissed him.
He was in drag. Okay, yeah, I covered that. I danced with him, after all. It felt good, having him pressed against me. Every time he spoke the sound rumbled against my skin. One of his hands was in my hair, I remember that.
I never thought he was the type to go for drag. I mean, okay, I had my suspicions about the guy. I met him in Queer Lit, after all. But Heero, in a dress? I guess the mental picture never made its way into my brain. But something about that caught my attention, I guess.
Now I’m rationalizing. Hey, I can do that. Right?
I stopped short and buried my face in my hands with a growl. This wasn’t supposed to happen. I’m not supposed to be shut up in my room on a Friday night wondering what the fuck is going on in my head. I know myself better than this. I know what I want.
I kicked my desk a few times. Nothing accomplished there. I crawled up into my bunk and flopped down on my back, dangling one leg over the side, and stared at the ceiling. Just stared for a while, without thinking. My roommate is an astronomy major, and he stuck little glow stars all over the ceiling of our room. Sagittarius is right above my bed. I traced the outline of it with my eyes.
Maybe I should start reading my horoscope. October, Sagittarius. Today you will question your sexual preferences.
I can see it now.
In the background the song was starting over again. "In his eyes I see the fear that only time can disappear … if only time could reappear, now is the time…" The CD player was stuck on repeat. It’s okay. Soft piano is about what I needed right then.
I kissed him.
I realized that every time I though that my hand spontaneously reached up to brush over my lips. Yeah, it was a nice kiss. A *really* nice kiss. I could still feel the place on my cheek where his hand was resting. He was warm, and his hair was soft even with all that gunk in it.
He was in drag. That’s point number one. I was drinking. Not much, but I was still drinking. I’m not a cheap date anymore, not like I was last year. I’ve had my fill of sneaking out of dorms during the wee hours of the morning and stumbling back to my own room.
Half the time I can’t even remember what happened, anyway.
That’s not the point, though. I was drinking, and despite my heightened tolerance I still do stupid shit when I drink, sometimes. Sure, I was sober when I danced with him, but I’ve danced with him before. Well, danced in the same room as him, anyway. Danced *near* him I guess is the more appropriate term. Flirted with him before. A lot. I thought it was just in fun, you know. I flirt with everyone. Maybe it was, but now I’m staring to think that I flirted with him because I wanted to. Because I enjoyed it. Sometimes he’d ignore me, shrug me off if I intruded too far into his personal space. Sometimes, shyly, he’d start flirting back.
Usually at that point I’d take off like a bat out of hell.
I couldn’t run that night, though. No, physically, I couldn’t. He was sitting on me. He smelled like Brut aftershave and vanilla.
Somehow, he knew. He knew I needed to run.
I found myself humming along with the next bars of the song. "Something to take it away to take it away … don’t let it stay…"
I wonder if he’s ever been like this, lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, wondering…
He kissed me.
My fingers were brushing over my lips again, tingling. I shuddered at the memory. His mouth on mine, soft, slow, agonizingly sweet, sending a jolt like electricity through my body.
I kissed him back.
He was in drag. I was drunk.
That’s all there is to it.
There wasn’t enough room to pace in the dorm, so I left. There was an hour of the late meal period left at the Student Union building across campus. Cold cereal and a cup of coffee sounded particularly good right then. So I set off across the auxillary fields, hugged my bomber jacket around myself, lit a cigarette, and cleared my head.
That damn song was stuck in my head. I found myself singing it under my breath between drags, as I walked. "Another night slips away, in other words I should say…" The sound of my feet padding against the concrete path tapped out a rhythm to the song. The last line was barely a whisper on my lips. "There are no words he should say, there are no words…"
I will not think about Heero Yuy. I will not think about Heero Yuy. I will not think—
My head shot up. I’d been staring at my toes. Hilde was walking down the path with two of her friends, waving to me.
"Hey, where you going?" She stopped right in front of me and bounced on her heels, hands deep in the pockets of a beige sweater.
"Food," I replied brightly. Her two friends giggled. They looked familiar, but their names escaped me at the moment. I grinned. That usually saves face.
"You busy later?" She shrugged in the direction of the shorter of the two girls, a blonde. "Trowa gave Beth here a fifth of whiskey and some Goldschalger for her birthday, and we thought we’d make use of it tonight."
Wow, get this. I’ve just been invited to a private drinking party with three girls, one of which I could conceivably end up sleeping with before the night’s over. I should have been ecstatic.
I exhaled a cloud of smoke, scratched the back of my head and smiled apologetically. "Sorry, ladies, duty calls. I’ve got a paper to finish." Homework. Always a good excuse for a college student.
Hilde’s friends looked a little disappointed, but she patted me on the shoulder. "Well, if you change your mind…"
I gave her a wink. "I’ve got your room number memorized." Smooth, Duo. Yeah right.
I waved and spun around, taking the steps to the main square two at a time.
And I wondered what the hell I was running from.
The cafeteria at the Student Union building was almost empty, and I was glad. I really, really didn’t want to be around people right then, not with all the junk rolling through my brain. Call me crazy, but sometimes I get this feeling that they can tell what I’m thinking about, that somehow all my unholy thoughts are broadcasting themselves into the brains of anyone around me. So I hurried past the door attendant after flashing my meal card, grabbed a tray, and hoped there was no one there that I knew.
Coffee. Frosted flakes. An orange, just for the hell of it. Me, concerned about nutritional value? Nah. I picked my tray up off the sliders and turned to the dining room.
I skipped classes all week and borrowed notes from that Matt guy. I ate at every cafeteria on campus except the South End. I changed my normal walking routes, and kept clear of the lower end of the Quad. All week. Just so I wouldn’t have to see the person I was looking at.
Heero Yuy. Directly in my line of sight, at a table with Trowa, talking quietly.
With a fucking ice cream cone, for crying out loud.
My immediate thought was: I can’t let him see me like this. I haven’t rebraided my hair since I woke up this morning, and there are little wisps sticking out all over the place. I’m wearing my old Nine Inch Nails t-shirt, the one that’s full of holes, and beat-up track pants with dirt on the knees.
When did I get so self-conscious?
I stood perfectly still for about thirty seconds, reviewing my options – drop the tray and run, or face Heero in all my unkempt glory. I didn’t get to make the decision, though, because while I was ruminating he turned slightly in his seat and looked right at me. And the air pressure drained out of the room.
That damn song was replaying over and over in my head. "The multi-life is better than the one we’re in – the one we knew, because everyone is seeing through everyone…"
He was staring at me. His coffee-brown hair was mussed, spiking out over his eyes. Dark, staggeringly blue eyes. He was leaning back casually in his chair, legs stretched out under the table, comfortable in baggy carpenter jeans and a white t-shirt covered by a gray and blue flannel.
He was gorgeous.
Trowa turned to see what caught Heero’s attention, made a surprised noise around his mouthful of pizza and waved me over. I was trapped in that blue gaze, lost in the implications of the look on his face.
Suddenly I wasn’t hungry anymore. My stomach was doing acrobatics with my racing pulse. All the blood drained out of my face and settled somewhere distinctly more uncomfortable. He smiled. That tiny, shy smile he always used when he tentatively started flirting with me at all those parties.
Why can’t the entire room hear my heart pounding?
All my options were gone. I went over to the table and sat down, before my knees gave out.
"Done with the Psych paper yet?"
That would be Trowa. Always the practical one. He was eating vegetarian pizza and tater tots, and wearing a Weezer t-shirt over a long-sleeved gray long john top.
I shrugged and poked at my cereal. "Not yet." Something bumped my foot under the table. Trowa tossed a tater tot in the air and caught it in his mouth. Heero was looking the other way.
Licking his ice cream cone.
I firmly planted my eyes on Trowa. "How’s yours coming?"
Damn him. "You’re, uh, doing comparative processes of the id and the superego, right?"
Great. Never look to Trowa for conversational assistance. Unintentionally, my gaze strayed back to Heero. His chocolate soft-serve had been worked down to a three-inch dome on top of the sugar cone. His tongue was trailing up one side, slowly.
"Do you play pool, Duo?"
Just as Trowa asked me this, Heero’s tongue suddenly plunged deep into the round glob of ice cream. At that same instant his eyes flickered up and locked with mine.
Oh dear sweet god…
I looked away quickly, feeling my face heat up. "Uh, yeah."
Intelligent, Duo. Brilliant, in fact. Out of the corner of my eyes I saw Heero smirking. Trowa either didn’t notice, or was extraordinarily good at pretending he didn’t notice.
I couldn’t even remember the question.
Trowa patted a black case sitting on the table beside him. I belatedly realized it must contain a pool cue. "Heero here keeps trying to beat me."
"And Trowa here thinks he’s a shark," the aforementioned commented. His voice was low and silky. I glanced sidelong at him, and he pushed the ice cream in his mouth all the way to the cone, then pulled it out, dragging his lips along the soft-serve. I shifted uncomfortably in my seat and looked pointedly at my bowl of cereal, which was slowly turning soggy.
I focused my attention on the orange and started peeling it, just to keep my hands occupied and to keep from looking at either of them. "I used to play at the bowling ally, back in high school."
That was lame. Where the hell did my conversational skills go today?
Trowa pushed his tray aside and stood up, grabbing his cue case and my collar. "Let’s go. The SU closes in an hour."
I found myself trailing along behind him, half-peeled orange still in my hand. Heero followed me, crunching on the remains of his ice cream cone, his lips turned up into a secretive half-smile.
"Gentlemen, the name of the game is Cutthroat," Trowa announced, racking the balls and shuffling them against the green flannel surface of the pool table. "I always play center. Heero, you lost last game, so you break. Duo, pick high or low."
I blinked at him, then cast my eyes across the table to where Heero was chalking one of the game room’s cues. "I’ll take low."
Blue eyes shot me an odd, calculating look, and Heero blew the chalk off the cue’s tip thoughtfully. "High it is, then."
Trowa pulled the rack away carefully and leaned against another table, one hand propped up on his cue. "Don’t choke."
Heero glared at him and bent to shoot the break. He’d taken off his flannel, and I found myself fascinated by the way his white t-shirt clung to his muscles. The sharp crack of the cue ball breaking the carefully formed triangle brought me back to my senses.
About that point, I remembered that I suck at pool.
"What are the stakes?" Heero asked, sidling up beside me so Trowa could take his shot.
The green-eyed boy paused thoughtfully, his cue hovering over the table. "Laundry."
Heero nodded. "Ben and Jerry’s." He looked at me.
I melted under that gaze. I opened my mouth, closed it, opened it again. Look at me, I’m a fish.
He smiled. "If you lose, I get to walk you home."
"Okay," I managed, in a tiny squeak.
Trowa chuckled and made his shot, sinking the six in a side pocket. "Sure, bet on something I won’t be able to enjoy."
Heero poked him with his cue. "If I’m happy, you don’t have to deal with me. Right?"
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Trowa muttered, moving around the table and lining up his next shot.
Heero was laughing. Not loudly, and not a deep belly laugh like my own. It was light, cheerful, and brought a bright smile to his normally cool features. I stared at him and realized I had never seen him as open as he was now, joking with his childhood friend.
I was suddenly jealous of Trowa.
"Yoo-hoo, loverboy, it’s your shot."
The evening continued on much the same note. Trowa and Heero constantly shot jibes at each other while sinking balls, and laughed good-naturedly with me every time I scratched. Which was often.
Gradually, the knots in my stomach began loosening, and I found myself joining in with their irreverent prattle. I lost the first game. Badly.
Trowa racked the balls again. "Your break this time, braid-boy."
"Stuff it, unibang," I snorted.
"Stakes?" Heero asked.
I blinked again and looked at Heero. I had a suspicion this was going somewhere.
That shy smile appeared on his face again. "If you lose, you go to the Show-Off with me, next Friday."
My stomach clenched again, but instead of feeling like I was going to pass out, a warm tingle flowed through my body. "Who’s playing?"
"Punk line-up. Not sure who the big name is."
"Deal." He was standing behind me as I bent to make the break. I could feel his eyes sliding over me. "No staring at my ass."
He whistled and looked away.
"Now Duo," Trowa intoned, "the ass is one of the most charming portions of the male body."
I made the shot without scratching, but the break sucked. "I happen to think that ass-ogling is a private matter."
"That’s why stealth is essential," Heero responded with a wink. "Your shot, Trowa."
The other man took position at the table and smirked. "Whereabouts would that be?"
"In the mouth. Win already, the SU’s closing soon."
Unfortunately, Trowa was laughing too hard to pocket the seven. I wrinkled my nose at them. "I don’t get it."
Trowa motioned for Heero to take his turn, waving his cue dramatically. "Shot in the mouth, Duo."
"Protein," Heero added as he passed me, giving my braid a playful tug. "Good for the hair."
I opened my mouth, closed it, and sputtered. Duo the fish again. Go me.
Trowa must have enjoyed my fish impression. He was leaning over another table, laughing so hard that tears were streaming down his face. "Good *god*, Heero, where the hell do you come up with these?"
"I have a lot of time on my hands. Among other things." Heero bent for his shot, a double to the corner. I found myself tracing the lines of his body with my eyes – muscled shoulders, lean back, a tight, round—
"You’re the one who said ass-ogling was a private matter."
I lost, which goes without saying. We were herded out of the SU by Maria, the little old lady who ran the candy counter, and the three of us stood outside the doors for a while, joking about Trowa’s sharkdom and my complete lack of pool skills. I lit a cigarette and leaned back against the wall, watching a cloud of smoke dissipate against the night sky.
"Now, you kids don’t get lost on the way home," Trowa said in a gruff monotone, snatching the cigarette out of my hand to take a drag. "And don’t take any candy from strangers."
Heero glared at him and I stole my cigarette back. Trowa smirked.
"Can I accept candy from Duo?" Heero’s tone was only a little insinuating.
"Only if it’s consensual." Trowa turned on his heel and waved, ambling off towards the parking lots.
I grinned and took a drag, then looked over at Heero. He was flicking his eyes back and forth from my face to the cigarette in my hand, a question on his features. I blinked for a minute, then lifted the hand. "Wanna drag?"
I held the cigarette out between two fingers, but instead of taking it he leaned forward and caught the butt between his lips, pressing them against my fingers as he inhaled. The brush of his mouth made me shiver, though it only lasted a moment before he leaned back and blew a stream of smoke into my face.
Then he smiled again, that shy, secret smile, and I almost collapsed.
Somehow my knees managed to hold out the entire walk back to the Quad, and I even convinced my reluctant voice to make some kind of conversation, though I don’t now and probably never will remember what we talked about. All I remember is his eyes in the shadows of the streetlights, glimmering at me softly.
We stopped just outside the circle of porch light in front of my building, and faced each other. The casual conversation we’d been carrying on was cut off. All I could do was stare, my jaw hanging loose.
I started second-guessing myself. What do I do now? What does he expect me to do? Should I give him a hug? A handshake? A … a kiss? Should I invite him up to my room? My pulse jumped at the very thought. Andrew wouldn’t be back from the party for hours yet, if at all. But was that what I really wanted? Was that moving too fast? Or was I already moving too slow? Why was I even thinking this? I liked him, didn’t I? Even without the drag and the alcohol, beyond the dim lights of the party last week he still held me in a strange trance I couldn’t understand. Did I really want him that way? Was this just some kind of phase, some bizarre infatuation? Should I just say goodnight, turn around and go inside?
He must be able to hear my heart pounding, as close as he is. What should I do? What does he want me to do?
I could smell his aftershave. My eyes slid over his face, landing on his lips. Oh, god…
He reached out and placed one hand on my hip, pulling me closer. The little voice in my brain started chattering away, reminding me that I’m supposed to be a ladies’ man, that I’m supposed to be normal, that anyone could walk by or peek out their windows and see us…
But my body wasn’t listening. My fingers were already reaching up to twine in his hair, my head was already tilting slightly, my lips parting, and all I could hear was that damn song. "They’re stepping on his gold terrain, he’s moving on with bold refrain, his blatantly old campaign is moving on…"
It was slow, sweet, his mouth moving softly against mine. His arms snaked around my back and he drew me in, as close as he could. I clutched at him, at his warmth, because if I didn’t I would fall, and it’s a long, long way down.
Cause I’m flying, you know.
And I’m inexplicably lost in a world I used to understand.